Basis for financial decisions in your life
Written by Elke Müller, Chairwoman of the Board Freikirchen.Bank
Finances can strongly determine our lives and thus become a blessing or a curse.
Interestingly enough, if we have little money, we feel poor and have to deal with our finances again and again – if we have enough, we don’t talk about it at all, according to the German saying: “You don’t talk about money, you have money!”. We often fail to realize how strongly money controls us. Money is not a neutral topic; it is highly spiritual.
What should money mean to you from a biblical perspective? To what extent do you trust in God when it comes to your finances? What strategies do you follow?
It is remarkable how often the Bible talks about possessions and money. About 700 Bible verses refer directly to the subject of money and as many as 2,350 Bible verses deal with the handling of possessions and money. Of the 38 parables handed down to us in the Bible by Jesus, 16 relate to our topic. For Jesus, money management was clearly a measure of spiritual life.
Because of the multitude of Bible verses, the reflections in this text are based on the verses from Matthew 6:24-34. I am both comforted and challenged by the text.
No one can have two bosses. He will hate the one and love the other. Or he will listen to the one and work against the other. You cannot have both God and riches as your boss at the same time. (Matthew 6:24)
1. You cannot serve two masters!
Jesus uses the term “mammon”, which can become a God for us.
I don’t want to fatuously elevate money to an enemy of the Christian life. In my view, neither the Christian poverty movement nor the Christian prosperity movement is within the center of the gospel. It does, however, point out with clarity that poverty and wealth can become a pitfall. Proverbs 30:8-9 says: „Do not let me be poor or rich. Feed me with the food that I need. Then I will not be afraid that I will be full and turn my back against You and say, “Who is the Lord?” And I will not be afraid that I will be poor and steal, and bring shame on the name of my God.“
Money and possessions can become mammon for us, they can attract all our attention. But Jesus wants all our attention to be on the Kingdom of God, that our thoughts and our whole life revolve around Him.
Therefore, I want to carefully check myself before God again and again as to what position possessions and money occupy in my life. But I want to see in my life not only the warning of the Scriptures, “Beware! Finances can be dangerous!”, but also the abundance of spiritual principles on how I can deal with possessions and finances and honor God. My behavior should be grounded in God’s action and Jesus may pastorally caution me: You cannot serve two masters!
I tell you this: Do not worry about your life. Do not worry about what you are going to eat and drink. Do not worry about what you are going to wear. Is not life more important than food? Is not the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They do not plant seeds. They do not gather grain. They do not put grain into a building to keep. Yet your Father in heaven feeds them! Are you not more important than the birds? Which of you can make himself a little taller by worrying? Why should you worry about clothes? Think how the flowers grow. They do not work or make cloth. But I tell you that Solomon in all his greatness was not dressed as well as one of these flowers. God clothes the grass of the field. It lives today and is burned in the stove tomorrow. How much more will He give you clothes? You have so little faith! Do not worry. Do not keep saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘What will we wear?’ The people who do not know God are looking for all these things. Your Father in heaven knows you need all these things. (Matthew 6:25-32)
2. God takes care of you!
In Genesis 22:14, God is referred to as “Jaweh Jireh”, as “The Lord will give us what we need.” He cares for his people. Every day he fed the children of Israel manna during their 40-year wilderness wanderings, and Jesus himself needed only five loaves and two fish to satisfy more than 5,000 people.
He wants to take care of me and you! Perhaps you are asking yourself, “If this is true, does God not see me?”
I have experienced in my life: God provides. But: there is a difference between my needs and my desires. God has never fulfilled all my desires, but he has fulfilled his promises, and these relate to my basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. God has committed in His Word to provide for needs.
For God financial issues are none. I have experienced this and therefore I am comforted by verses 25-32. At this point, a further thought: If we want to follow Jesus, we must transfer the ownership of our possessions to God. If you were not aware of this until today, I would like to invite you to make such a transfer to God. Giving up ownership is not easy. But it is worth it because I know that my God cares for me!
First of all, look for the holy nation of God. Be right with Him. All these other things will be given to you also. (Matthew 6:33)
3. Seek God’s Kingdom first!
The more we are aware of this, the more relieving it is. However, we cannot just lean and think that we have already grasped all the biblical principles in dealing with money and possessions. The “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness …” occurs again and again in the various statements of Jesus about money and possessions. The concept of “stewardship” dominates. God as the Lord wants to give responsibility/stewardship to His people. We are to deal reliably and faithfully with the things that God gives us.
Luke 16:10-12 says: “He that is faithful with little things is faithful with big things also. He that is not honest with little things is not honest with big things. If you have not been faithful with riches of this world, who will trust you with true riches? If you have not been faithful in that which belongs to another person, who will give you things to have as your own?”
Jesus emphasizes the reliability and faithfulness that is expected of us and that is in dealing with all goods. Our basic attitude of faithfulness should apply to everything, especially to the so-called “little things”. My reliability determines how much God can entrust to me. I want to learn to be a faithful steward and let Jesus challenge me to this biblical principle in my daily life. Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 6:33 that a source of blessing will be opened to anyone who sets his priority on the kingdom of God and on his righteousness: “All these other things will be given to you also.”
This becomes especially clear when dealing with our finances. Basically, our bank statements say more about our priorities than much else we say or do.
When we give something to God, it is an act of worship. How do I reach this thought? Because Jesus Christ is my Lord and faithful provider, I can express my gratitude and love to Him by giving my gifts to Him. Of course, the gift also benefits the recipient, but in God’s Word, when I give with a sincere and loving heart, the blessing to me as the giver is greater than that to the recipient. So giving is about benefiting from the blessing God has promised.
It is the spirit of joy and freedom that should characterize us when we think about how to deal with the possessions and money entrusted to us. I would like to invite you to such a spiritual lifestyle today. I want to encourage you and me anew to trust God. He wants to take care of you.
We have a God who has let go of everything for you and me, who has given everything to give us. In Christ we share in this richness. This is also what Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians: “And my God will give you everything you need because of His great riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).
Elke Müller has been Chairwoman of the Board of Freikirchen.Bank, a Christian cooperative bank, since 2015. Her everyday life revolves very much around the topic of “finances” and the question of how the bank can best use the funds entrusted to it in the kingdom of God. She loves the churches of God in all their facets and lives with her husband Andreas in Bad Homburg v. d. Höhe near Frankfurt.